Today’s feature is Sanctuary, by Kris Kramer. This fantasy story is set in a long ago Britain where Vikings exert cruelty and strength, and magic is more than mere myth. It’s got a 4.7 average at Amazon, so check it out!
In 9th century Britain, chaos rules as kingdoms splinter, Vikings invade from all corners, and lives and fortunes are lost to those with the biggest sword and the smallest shreds of morality. When a young priest, Daniel, witnesses a lone warrior save his village from savage raiders, he believes he’s seen a miracle, and he follows the reclusive warrior on his mysterious trek across the island, hoping to find his own path in this brutal and unforgiving world.
Daniel’s journey takes him to places he’d long since left, forcing him to face his past, along with dour dwarves, canny druids, and an army of Viking warriors. When he meets a captive woman with strange abilities amongst the ruins of humanity’s savage and unforgiving past, Daniel will face his true enemy, a powerful demon, who waits for his dominion over man to be complete.
Your book, Sanctuary, is set in a very interesting and dangerous time in history. How much research did you have to complete in order to bring the 9th Century to life for the 21st Century reader?
Luckily, I didn’t have to do a ton of research because I’d already read quite a bit about the time period. In fact, I picked that era on purpose, because I was intrigued by what was happening in Britain at the time. You had Vikings attacking from all corners, and in large numbers, and these weren’t just raids. These people wanted to conquer and stick around for a while. You had the remnants of the old Britons and their Druid/Celtic ways, who were already being overrun by the Saxons in the south. Then you see the nascent English monarchy just beginning with a young Alfred the Great, who manages to deftly survive and then control/convert the Danes until he’d created what would end up as the nation of England.
It’s a fascinating period, and I’d already had a taste of it through a number of books, primarily Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon series. But I did have to do some additional research, primarily on the history of the English town of York, which is known as Eoferwic in the novel, and then shortly after as Jorvik.
What was the average day like for a villager during that time, and how did you portray that in your story?
The average day would have been a struggle. The people of that time worked nearly every day just to feed, clothe and shelter themselves, and their homes were little more than what we would call shacks. Everyone (and by everyone I mean the typical, poor villager/farmer) slept in the same hut, usually on the floor, crowded around a hearth that spewed out dusty smoke all the time. And you spent your warm weather seasons just trying to save enough food to get through the winter, which could be harsh in Britain. So it wasn’t a romantic time, nor was it a simple life.
How would you describe your protagonist, Daniel?
Daniel is a complicated guy. He’s a priest (almost) who has a crisis of faith, only to witness what he thinks is a miracle. His journey in this book is basically a journey to understand who and what he is. I can’t get into too much more than that without spoiling some parts of the book, though.
What types of mythology or magic do you draw on for Sanctuary?
I draw on all of the mythologies of the time period and the location. But the three major ones are Norse mythology, Celtic mythology, and Christianity. And even better, all three are in conflict. Celtic mythology is fading, Christianity is growing stronger, and Norse mythology makes a sudden, brutal impact. In fact, the first three books of this series will each introduce a character that represents the three mythologies. Daniel is obviously the Christian character. The second book will bring in a Viking (for Norse mythology), and the third will star an Irishwoman who’s actually a Banshee (Celtic mythology).
What might a reader be surprised to find out when reading your book?
That my book isn’t quite what they expect. It looks like a mix between historical fiction and christian fiction, but it’s neither. It’s a cleverly disguised fantasy story. A fantasy series, actually.